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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The seven deadly sins of Hoopfest weekend

Hoopfest 2016, as seen from the Parkade, takes over downtown Spokane on Saturday, June 25, 2016. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Hoopfest 2016, as seen from the Parkade, takes over downtown Spokane on Saturday, June 25, 2016. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

If Evagrius Ponticus – the fourth-century monk who refined the concept of the seven deadly sins – knew what happened each Spokane Hoopfest weekend, he’d surely roll in his grave.

For 26 years, the tournament has graced the city of Spokane with thousands of eager basketball fanatics and onlookers. And for the past decade or so, Hoopfest has grown to be the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world.

It’s no surprise, then, that everything Ponticus taught to refrain from is here.

Anger: “Sombo,” reads the back of his shirt. He gets a pass from his teammate “Big Sexy” and moves to drive to the rim. It’s then that he’s elbowed in the right eye. Dazed, he steps back with a look of pure wrath, his blond mullet swaying wildly.

“I was stunned,” Sam “Sombo” Schneider later said. “I couldn’t see out of it for a while, but I just had to play through it.”

Sombo got angry.

The next possession, he sticks out his arm and creates a fleshy clothesline that catches the other team’s player off guard. It’s a foul, but they ended up missing the shot.

“I just wanted to play through it and keep playing,” he said.


Pride: “Let’s go Kolb!” shouts Tiffany Kolb, Easton Kolb’s mother.

The 9-year-old is a Hoopfest regular, and on this particular day, he’s having one of those games: He can’t miss a shot and he’s ferocious on defense.

“We love Hoopfest,” Tiffany Kolb says. “They love it.”

Easton Kolb, along with his older brother, Aden Kolb, won the championship in their bracket last year. The championship T-shirts they received were too big, so the two boys wear them to bed as pajamas.

Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

Sloth: Eight hours of basketball might not be sufficient for some, but for others it’s enough to fill a lifetime.

“We’re just here to watch our grandsons play,” says John, who declined to share his or his wife’s last name.

“When they’re through playing for the day, we go home,” Debbie adds.

But before heading home, why not enjoy a quiet spot in Riverfront Park to sit and eat some hot dogs? Endless lines of people file past, going to and from the next exciting point of interest, as John and Debbie patiently wait.

The couple have lived in Spokane for about 20 years. For the last eight years, their grandsons have spent Hoopfest weekend with their favorite grandparents.

“Let’s just say they’re our favorite grandsons,” John says with a smile.

“They’re our only grandsons!” Debbie adds.

Lust/Gluttony: Jake Stanton is beaming with anticipation. As the men and women of the Longhorn Barbecue sandwich tent work tirelessly to prepare food for hundreds of patrons, the 6-year-old watches in excitement.

“Is that mine?!” Jake asks his dad.

He cranes his neck and peers over the counter on his tip-toes, but his vertically challenged self can’t quite see all the way. No matter, his mammoth barbecued pulled-pork sandwich is ready – finally.

He snatches the cardboard food tray and licks the top of his bun while he waits for his dad to help his brother.

“I’m so happy, happy, happy,” Jake repeats as they walk off into the park.

Greed: It’s clear from the get-go: Caleb is the one to beat.

His team, The Toon Squad – a name they picked up from the 1996 film “Space Jam” featuring Michael Jordan – is facing off against Ballers.

The game seems out of reach for Ballers, until the final few minutes when 3-pointer after 3-pointer goes into the net. Will this be the end of The Toon Squad?

Nope. The 16-year-old drives to the hoop and splashes the 2-pointer that keeps the game out of reach for Ballers. Caleb (who declined to give his last name) ends up scoring most of the points for his team, and has a hand in almost every scoring drive.

“I was feelin’ it,” he says.

Can you blame a hot hand for taking shots?

Envy: Evan Daniel is shy.

While his older brother Aden plays on the court, Evan watches from the sidelines, resting his arms on a basketball nestled between his legs. He’s too young to play in the tournament.

He only likes to answer in one-word phrases, but eventually lets it slip that he’s a normal 10-year-old with hobbies and interests. Who knew?

Evan likes video games – notably “Call of Duty” and “NBA 2K 16” – and enjoys watching the NBA. His favorite player is Russell Westbrook, the star point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. And like his idol, Evan is a point guard for his fourth-grade basketball team.

He may be a boy of few words, but that’s OK. In three words he’s able to articulate what everyone at Spokane Hoopfest is surely thinking.

“I like basketball.”

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